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Washington No Child Left Behind waiver approval letter

Washington No Child Left Behind waiver approval letter

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Published by: huffpost on Jul 06, 2012
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July 6, 2012Honorable Randy DornSuperintendent of Public InstructionWashington Department of Public InstructionP.O. Box 47200Olympia, WA 98504-7200Dear Superintendent Dorn:I am pleased to approve Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility. I congratulate you onsubmitting a request that demonstrates Washington’s commitment to improving academicachievement and the quality of instruction for all of the State’s elementary and secondary schoolstudents.Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) offered States the opportunity to requestflexibility from certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965(ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, in exchange for rigorous andcomprehensive plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, closeachievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction. This flexibility isintended to support the groundbreaking reforms already taking place in many States and districtsthat we believe hold promise for improving outcomes for students. We are encouraged by theinnovative thinking and strong commitment to improving achievement for all students that isevident in Washington’s request.Our decision to approve Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility is based on our determinationthat the request meets the four principles articulated in the Department’s September 23, 2011,document titled
 ESEA Flexibility
. In particular, Washington has: (1) demonstrated that it hascollege- and career-ready expectations for all students; (2) developed, and has a high-quality planto implement, a system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support for all Title Idistricts and schools in the State; (3) committed to developing, adopting, piloting, andimplementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that support studentachievement; and (4) provided an assurance that it will evaluate and, based on that evaluation,revise its administrative requirements to reduce duplication and unnecessary burden on districtsand schools. Our decision is also based on Washington’s assurance that it will meet these four  principles by implementing the high-quality plans and other elements as described in its requestand in accordance with the required timelines. In approving Washington’s request, we have takeninto consideration the feedback we received from the panel of peer experts and Department staff who reviewed Washington’s request, as well as Washington’s revisions to its request in responseto that feedback.
The waivers that comprise ESEA flexibility are being granted to Washington pursuant to myauthority in section 9401 of the ESEA. A complete list of the statutory provisions being waived isset forth in the table enclosed with this letter. Consistent with section 9401(d)(1) of the ESEA, Iam granting waivers of these provisions through the end of the 2012–2013 school year. If Washington meets the conditions described below prior to the end of the 2012–2013 school year, Iwill extend the approval of these waivers through the end of the 2013–2014 school year, at whichtime Washington may request an extension of these waivers.In the coming days, you will receive a letter from Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, containing additional information regarding Washington’simplementation of ESEA flexibility, as well as information regarding monitoring and reporting.Please note that the Department will closely monitor Washington’s implementation of the plans,systems, and interventions detailed in its request in order to ensure that all students continue toreceive the assistance and supports needed to improve their academic achievement.Our decision to place conditions on the approval of Washington’s request is based on the fact thatWashington will use the 2012–2013 school year to study and refine its new accountability index,which will be an integral part of its new differentiated recognition, accountability, and supportsystem. However, we have determined that Washington is able to fully meet the ESEA flexibility principles in the 2012–2013 school year while it continues to finalize the new index. The decisionis also based on the fact that Washington has not yet formally adopted a method for includingstudent growth as a significant factor in its teacher and principal evaluation and support systemsand has not yet changed its evaluation requirements to ensure that student growth be a factor in“focused evaluations” (i.e., evaluations that, in contrast to comprehensive evaluations, use only asubset of the State’s evaluative criteria). In its request for ESEA flexibility, Washington hascommitted to determining a method for ensuring that a teacher or principal cannot receive anoverall summative rating of 
if he or she receives a low score on student growth, andto placing teachers and principals with low student growth scores on a one-year growth plan toaddress areas for improvement. Washington has also committed to seeking a legislative change torequire that focused evaluations include consideration of student growth.To receive approval to implement ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2013–2014 school year,Washington must submit to the Department for review and approval an amended requestincorporating: (1) the final version of the new index, including by attaching to the amendedrequest any technical documentation, administrative rules, and other relevant information; (2) rulesregarding the use of student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation andsupport systems that Washington’s Teacher and Principal Evaluation Project Steering Committeeis expected to recommend by December 2012; and (3) a copy of the amended State statute thatrequires each focused evaluation to use student growth data. If Washington’s amended requestdoes not include the final version of the new index, fails to demonstrate that its final method for determining a teacher or principal’s summative evaluation rating includes student growth as asignificant factor, fails to demonstrate that it has secured the necessary legislative change to requirethat focused evaluations include student growth, or if Washington does not receive approval of theamended request, the waivers being granted to Washington through ESEA flexibility will expire atthe end of the 2012–2013 school year, and Washington and its districts will be required toimmediately resume complying with all ESEA requirements.
Washington continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are incompliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, nationalorigin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility as well as their implementation of all other Federal education programs. These laws include Title VI of the CivilRights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of theRehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age DiscriminationAct of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.A copy of Washington’s approved request for ESEA flexibility will be posted on the Department’sWeb site at:http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility/requests.Again, I congratulate you on the approval of Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility and thank you for the work that you andyour staff have done. I look forward to continuing to support you as you implement Washington’sESEA flexibility request and work to improve the quality of instruction and academic achievementfor all students.Sincerely,/s/Arne DuncanEnclosurecc: Governor Christine GregoireAssistant Superintendent Bob Harmon

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